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Video of Steve Jobs's first public demo of the Mac resurfaces after 30 years

A video of late Apple chief Steve Jobs demonstrating the then-new Macintosh to a gathering of the Boston Computer Society in 1984 has been digitized and made available online, providing a unique insight into the machine's early life.



The Boston demonstration came one week after the Mac's more well-known unveiling to a group of Apple investors at Cupertino's Flint Center and mirrors the content of the earlier presentation, though with a more polished feel. Boston-area videographer Glenn Koenig preserved and digitized the footage, which was first published by Time's Harry McCracken.

One difference from the Cupertino staging comes toward the end of the 90-minute video, when a group of original Mac team members take the stage for a question-and-answer session. Jobs is joined by Bill Atkinson, Steve Capps, Owen Densmore, Andy Hertzfeld, Bruce Horn, Rony Sebok, Burrell Smith and Randy Wigginton.

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak — who famously was not part of the Mac team — was also present.

Jobs was characteristically immodest during the question-and-answer portion, telling an audience member who queried the group about the status of the Apple III that "I wouldn't have called on you if I'd known that was your question."

At one point, Jobs even compared the invention of the Mac to the invention of the telephone:

And there were some people that talked about putting a telegraph machine on every desk in America to improve productivity. Now what those people didn't know was that about the same time, Alexander Graham Bell filed the original patents for the telephone — a breakthrough in technology. Because putting a telegraph on every desk in America to improve technology wouldn't have worked. People wouldn't have spent the twenty to forty to a hundred hours to learn Morse code. They just wouldn't have done it.

But with the telephone, within ten years there were over 200,000 telephones on desks in America. It was a breakthrough, because people already knew how to use it. It performed the same basic function, but radical ease of use. And in addition to just letting you type in the words or click in the words, it let you sing. It let you intone your sentences to really get your meaning across.

And what we think we have here is the first telephone. And in addition to letting you do the old spreadsheets and word processing, it lets you sing. It lets you make pictures. It lets you make diagrams where you cut them and past them into your documents. It lets you put that sentence in Bold Helvetica or Old English, if that's the way you want to express yourself.


The video ran for the first time this century at a 30th anniversary reunion of former Mac team members last week, and an edited version will be preserved by the Computer History Museum and made available — along with videos of other Boston Computer Society meetings — on the museum's website.